Mental health law advocates and even scholars have typically been hostile toward, afraid of, or at best indifferent to, the mental health disciplines (mainly psychiatry and psychology) and their practitioners. Learning to be skeptical of supposed scientific expertise is an important lesson, and the law should never simply defer to psychiatry and the related disciplines. But to the extent that the legal system now ignores developments in the mental health disciplines, the lesson of healthy skepticism has been overlearned. It is my thesis, then, that those of us interested in 'justice" in mental health law ought not to adopt the shortsighted and anti-intellectual stance of ignoring or shunning the mental health disciplines. Indeed, as I hope to show in this essay, an appreciation of the mental health disciplines can in many instances help to create a more just legal system and should surely contribute meaningfully and refreshingly to the dialogue on rights and justice.


The Justice Mission of American Law Schools